Each week, the NHL on TSN panel voices its opinions on the hot topics of the day in the Wednesday Night Hockey Quiz.
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Which hashtag best sums up Phil Kessel's extraordinary storyline: #LastPickTopScorer, #CriticsBeDamned, #WhosLaughingNowOV or #AmericanBeauty?
Aaron Ward: I'll go with #CriticsBeDamned. I include myself in the category of guys who dissected Phil Kessel top to bottom for his perceived lack of grit and for his need for consistency. He's had to put up and we've had to shut up. Not only is he leading the league in scoring, but right now he's averaging plus-twenty minutes per game and he's a plus player.
Bob McKenzie: # WhosLaughingNowOV. When Alexander Ovechkin did what he did to Kessel it was all in good fun. As well, Kessel took it that way. But guess what? Everyone's got a sense of humour but the hockey gods have a sense of humour too. Phil Kessel is arguably one of the very top players in the NHL and Alexander Ovechkin is struggling to find his game. Who's laughing now?
Marc Crawford: I'm going to take #AmericanBeauty. I think Phil Kessel's been great since day one. His skating has been terrific and he's hitting the holes. Everybody knows about his great shot off the wing, but the fact that he's hitting the holes and he's playing with players that speed at centre; whether it's been Tyler Bozak or Tim Connelly. And how about how much he's improved the game of Joffrey Lupul? It's always nice when you play well but when you have your teammates playing well because of your play, that's a real complement to Kessel as well.
If you were Brian Burke, would you extend Ron Wilson's contract right now?
Crawford: Yes! Absolutely! He's done everything for them; he's great in the media - which is underrated in Toronto - and he's made the team faster, allowing them to play a system where they have speed and support and that's where the game's at. I say absolutely yes.
Ward: Yes, I say you signing him. It's an endorsement of what he's doing; he's accomplishing a lot, he's winning and maintaining that atmosphere. It also serves to keep that continuity in the locker room and it's that mentality that Toronto has right now.
McKenzie: I would say no. You didn't want to sign him in the summer to an extension and we're one-quarter of the way through the season. Why not let things unfold and see where everything shakes out. You don't know where the team is going to be or where Wilson's going to be three or four months from now. If you're going to let a guy hang in the wind, let him hang in the wind until you know whether you're going to make the playoffs or not.
What has most made this a Movember to Remember: Crosby's return, Anaheim's collapse, Boston's resurgence or Gino Reda's return?
McKenzie: I'll go with Crosby's return. He's been very good, averaging two points per game and playing the game with a lot of passion. The National Hockey League is better for having Sidney Crosby back, so for me that's the Movember to Remember.
Ward: I would go with Boston's resurgence. After a disastrous start, we would probably find more confidence at a Stuart Smalley convention (for the kids out there, just You Tube it under Saturday Night Live skits). They have recaptured that swagger and they've got their identity back, playing with a high level of confidence. They're showing no signs of slowing down.
Crawford: I would say Crosby's return. I was there when he came back the first night and I saw the excitement in the stands. I also saw veteran reporters, people that have covered the league for years, and the impact he had on those people was measurable and certainly we're a better league because he's back in it.
Who is the frontrunner for GM of the Year: Brian Burke, Peter Chiarelli, Don Maloney or Dale Tallon?
Ward: I like Maloney. To say that his team is third and not follow the word third without 'last' is an accomplishment in his own right. He's restricted by finances and circumstances; so many things he has to overcome.
McKenzie: I'll say Brian Burke. A year ago this time, everybody was piling on him because the Kessel deal didn't look that good. The Kessel deal looks a lot better right now but its really the Francois Beauchemin that has fueled the Leafs. Joffrey Lupul's been exceptional and Jake Gardiner has been exceptional. They mitigated any damages on the Kessel deal by dealing Tomas Kaberle to get Joe Colborne, who looks like he may be the big centre they're looking for.
Crawford: All healthy candidates but I'm going to choose Dale Tallon in Florida. If not for Tallon right now, we might be talking about Florida in terms of going somewhere else. He's brought in Kevin Dineen, along with Craig Ramsay. Brian Campbell is having a great year and up front, Kris Versteeg - a castoff of the Maple Leafs - is in the Top 10 in scoring. They've been terrific in Florida and Dale Tallon deserves a lot of the credit.